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A PureGym personal trainer has apologised for an "ill-judged" workout appearing to compare slavery to exercising.
Matt Simpson admitted there was "no excuse" for the offensive social media post, titled '12 Years of Slave', which appeared on the account of the chain's Luton & Dunstable branch boasting: "Slavery was hard and so is this."
The controversial upload was designed to coincide with Black History Month, which began last week. It led to accusations of racism against PureGym.
Simpson took to Instagram to issue a grovelling apology. He said: "I sincerely apologise to all whom i offended and angered in any way, shape or form, directly or indirectly.
"There was absolutely no malice or ill intentions meant by the post.
"This was a very ill judged post which I am responsible for."
Simpson also quoted renowned civil rights activist Martin Luther King in asking people to "judge on character".
His routine was posted on the gym's social media on Monday morning, where it was immediately criticised for "extreme bad taste".
The assistant manager of the Bedfordshire gym was forced to apologise for the insensitive post where he insisted he has learned a "very hard lesson".
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The original post said: "Entitled '12YearsOfSlave (after the epic movie) this is our workout of the month designed by @mattsimpt to celebrate black history month.
"Slavery was hard and so is this."
The post then goes on to list the 12 different exercises in the routine, which included push ups, burpees, squats and deadlifts.
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It was roundly slammed for comparing exercising to the slave trade, with former footballer Stan Collymore among those to lay into the company.
He tweeted: "F***ing hell PureGym, this is honking. Slavery was hard and so is this?"
Another social media user wrote: "The utter disrespect. I'm so angry. How dare you. The audacity. I feel so sick."
Hollywood blockbuster 12 Years A Slave told the true story of a free man, played by British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, being kidnapped and sold into slavery.
The movie received nine Oscar nominations, winning three.
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After the backlash, Simpsons called himself "a proud backlash, adding: "The branding of PureGym as racist couldn't be further from the truth in my opinion."
A spokesman for PureGym said: "PureGym apologises unreservedly for a post made today by our gym in Luton.
"The post is wholly unacceptable, was not approved or endorsed by the company and was removed as soon as it was brought to our attention.
"Each of our 271 gyms has its own social media channels which are run locally.
"We take this matter extremely seriously and are urgently investigating how and why this post was made.”
Black History Month takes place every October to celebrate the history and achievements of the black community.
Millions of Africans died in the transatlantic slave trade which existed for more than 300 years before it was finally ended in the 19th century.
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